NEW JERSEY, USA: Thank You, Claire Dunphy

On a typical Wednesday night, I’m getting home from work at around 8:30 pm, having a glass of wine, and watching the sitcom, Modern Family, with my husband.  By the time I get home, both kids are already asleep, and I’m exhausted after a long day.

This aforementioned day includes taking my daughter to and from a three-hour stint at preschool, while making sure my two-year-old son doesn’t cause grave injury to himself (or me for that matter).  Then, at 3:00 pm, the babysitter comes over, and I’m off to work until 8:00 pm.

I know that a lot of other women juggle much more than I do, but keeping two children clean, clothed and fed, while chipping away at the household chores, is more than I can handle sometimes.  That’s why it’s so refreshing to watch a show like Modern Family, where it’s okay to be a mom with imperfections. (more…)

NEW JERSEY, USA: My Family is My Home

In July of 2005, my husband and I purchased our first home.  The idea to purchase a home came to us four months earlier when we became pregnant with our daughter and were living in a one-bedroom apartment at the time.  I wanted to move before the baby arrived because our apartment was small, and I thought we would need more space.

Although it wasn’t necessary to purchase a house (after all, we could have rented a two-bedroom apartment for about $1300/month), we saw the home prices around us rising and rising, year after year, and we felt as though we would never be able to afford a home if we didn’t get into the market at that moment.  Well, obviously, we were wrong.  Hindsight is 20-20, right?

Before we began looking for a home, my husband and I sat down and crunched the numbers.  We concluded that we would be able to afford a home that cost about $250,000.  We began going to open houses and were incredibly disappointed.  The homes we could afford were in terrible shape and needed tons of work, and the ones we liked were WAY out of our price range.

It seemed a little strange and unfair to us that two college-educated working adults could not afford a decent home in a blue-collar town.  My husband had his doubts about purchasing a home at that time.  He didn’t think the home prices accurately represented the home values.  Instead of listening to his concerns, I came up with an idea that I thought was brilliant. (more…)

NEW JERSEY, USA: A Mother Named Ama

On March 13, my mother celebrated her 69th birthday.  I am thrilled to still have her in my life, and I cherish every moment we spend together.  You see, two years ago she was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer.

On the day she received her diagnosis, she was immediately admitted to the hospital.  We had no idea what to expect.  I was eight months pregnant at the time and could not stop crying, day and night.  My mother spent Christmas in the hospital, making it the worst Christmas EVER, then she had extremely invasive surgery which left her in the ICU for days.

Once she was strong enough to undergo chemotherapy, she completed six rounds over a period of about 5 months and was cancer-free.  In the spirit of celebrating her recent birthday, I want to honor her by sharing the incredible life she has lived.

My mother was born in 1942 in rural Spain.  Her mother suffered from tuberculosis and was 47-years-old at the time of my mother’s birth.   Due to complications associated with the birth, my grandmother died two days after my mother was born.  (more…)

NEW JERSEY, USA: Am I Scared of Bullies?

When I was in graduate school for social work, I had to examine the role that boundaries played in my life.  Social workers often work with people in vulnerable circumstances.  Therefore, it is crucial to maintain clear boundaries to uphold professional integrity.

Problematic boundaries can be either too rigid or too loose.  People with rigid boundaries do not allow others to get close to them and are often guarded.  People with loose boundaries can be too open with others.  They do not want to upset or disappoint anyone.  It is important to be somewhere in between the two.

In examining my own boundaries, I discovered that they are a little on the loose side.  I have a hard time saying no to people.  I also avoid conflict.  I wondered how having loose boundaries would affect me as a parent.  Would I be able to appropriately protect my child when I struggle standing up for myself?  I feared that I would let my kids down.  Then it actually happened.

My family went to Ikea to buy a bookshelf for my five-year-old daughter’s bedroom.  My daughter LOVES Ikea because they have a playroom with a huge ball pit.  She begs me to leave her there while I shop.  Although I always have reservations about it, I say yes, let her play, and I shop as quickly as I can. (more…)

NEW JERSEY, USA: Keep It Rockin’

I have one of the worst memories of anybody I know.  I can be with a group of friends who will be talking about a hilarious event that happened in high school or college, one that I may have played a vital role in, and I have absolutely no memory of it.

I want to remember it, because it sounds awesome, but for some reason I don’t.  My husband refers to me as the guy from the movie “Memento.”  You know, the one who has to tattoo notes on his arms because he has no short-term memory.  That’s me, without the tattooing. (more…)